Who owns new IEC building?

FamCast News
21 days ago

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By Neo Kolane

A bombshell revelation from the ministry of law and justice has exposed a potential rift between the government and the Independent Electoral Commission (IEC), amid conflicting reports about who actually purchased the new M77 million IEC headquarters building.

The electoral body last month relocated to the newly-acquired premises at Maseru West, from Matekane Group of Companies (MGC) Park which is owned by prime minister Sam Matekane, where it had been paying M808 722.22 monthly in rent.

The minister of law and justice, Richard Ramoeletsi said the government decided against the IEC purchasing the building, opting instead for the state to acquire it while looking for a suitable site.

Ramoeletsi yesterday showed theReporter a draft agreement between IEC and his ministry regarding the building known as HomeStead Holdings, which the government has acquired.

According to the agreement, although the electoral body currently occupies the building, there is a temporary timeline set for it to vacate in future.

The agreement ensures that the work of the IEC will not be disrupted during and after their occupancy of the HomeStead Holdings building.

Both the IEC and the government will collaborate to acquire permanent land suitable for constructing a purpose-fit building for the IEC,” the agreement notes.

Ramoeletsi explained that there had been discussions between the IEC and HomeStead Holdings regarding the use of the building.

He said the government, through the ministry of finance, bought the building last year.

During the negotiations, it was clarified that the IEC would not purchase the building as a permanent location, but the government would acquire it instead, he added.

“In their response, the IEC mentioned saving money from elections and negotiating for the purchase, while acknowledging that these funds belong to the government.

“Both the government and IEC spoke to the same person (owner) in November last year and the government knew that the latter was in talks about purchasing a building,” pointed out.

He indicated that the government decided that IEC could not purchase the building as a permanent location.

“The government proposed to buy the building itself, and intends to find a permanent piece of land to build a home for IEC.”

Ramoeletsi also said the IEC’s claim that it bought the building with funds left over from the 2022 national elections is false.

“The government’s money is returned to the consolidated fund when not used. The IEC does not have money,” he argued.

He further revealed that the building is located in a residential area surrounded by schools and churches, and is therefore not ideal for the operations of the IEC, especially in terms of parking and potential disturbances to residents due to blocked gates.

“The building was originally constructed for residential purposes, not for business or governmental functions.

“As a result, it may not provide adequate space to accommodate all of IEC’s employees and equipment.

“Some of IEC’s equipment is currently stored at the Maseru District Office, which suggests that the current building lacks sufficient storage or operational space,” he revealed.

The director of elections, Advocate Mphaiphele Maqutu, on Monday this week maintained during an interview with a local radio station that he had bought the building through funds allocated by parliament.

When the IEC presented the building to the media earlier this month, Maqutu said the office of the director had formed a team to scout for a building that would become the new home for IEC.

Maqutu said they searched for buildings until inspections and thorough investigations were made.

“We had two options, renting the building or purchasing it outright. We settled for the latter,” he noted.

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